Don’t Fear The Pirates

Damien Walter, blogging for The Guardian, explains why piracy not only need not be a concern for independent authors, it may be just what they need.


Genre writers exist, by and large, in the publishing mid-list, where mediocre sales might seem most easily eroded by the spectre of illegitimate downloads. SF, fantasy and horror are also the literature of choice for the culture of geeks most likely to share their favourite authors’ works on torrent sites.


This is not as much a problem as an opportunity, Walter explains:


Novelist, blogger and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow is well known for providing free digital copies of all his books as a marketing strategy, arguing that in a digital economy, obscurity is a far greater threat than piracy.


Neil Gaiman, ever the gentleman, kindly points out that if you are a writer courting fans, screaming “THIEF!” at them and threatening legal action for copying might be … counterproductive.


Those who fret over piracy don’t understand the “digital economy.” If they did, they would embrace rather than fear tech heads with black eye-patches:

The digital economy operates on the model of the long tail, and copying is part of how a book or any digital creation moves up the tail. Copying and file-sharing are the internet’s word of mouth – and as all good booksellers know, it’s word of mouth that really sells books.

… downloads from torrent sites aren’t a sale lost but a reader gained, the sites themselves not dens of piracy but places where people who are fans of cool stuff go looking for new cool stuff to be fans of. For the artisan author, self-publishing is a preference and file-sharing is an opportunity.

Read more here.